I was about eight years old when I realised I was going to die. I remember walking down the hall of my house and thinking, “In 70 years all of this will be gone. I’ll be dead in the ground, and I’ll never wake up.”
Just over two months ago, my 25 year old brother and his 23 year old wife were killed in a car accident. Their son is 16 months old now, and survived. She was 4 months pregnant with their second (another son, as we found out from the autopsy).
I’ve been an atheist for awhile now, after being raised mormon. My grandfather had passed away - it wasn’t as if I was unfamiliar with the concept of death. I think I can even say that I’d gone so far as to accept that in my atheist world view death means The End. But to hear that my middle brother was gone - my sweet little brother with the dazzling smile and the ability to charm anyone - the most kind of all of us 4 children was gone in the blink of an eye and I’d never ever see him again …
I’m not “over it”. I don’t think I’ll ever be “over it” and I can only imagine how my parents feel! I’m 30. My little brother won’t be home for Christmas now, or ever. He won’t see his son, his namesake marry, or have children, or even teach him how to throw a ball.
Bah. I don’t write online about these things. But I miss him, and it seems to be more painful at night.
Nothing triggered it, but one night I was lying in bed and I just suddenly realized that I will someday die. I couldn’t get back to sleep that night. After that, the realization of mortality would just hit me at random moments- I was at a boy scout camp, and I realized that in, at most 200 years, all the scouts I saw would be dead, and I as well; I thought about how the time flew by so fast during my summer vacation on the first day of 9th grade, and then I thought that when I will be old and near death in some nursing home the time flying by will have felt just as fast. Right now I realize that every second that I experiance is one less second subtracted from the (hopefully) large, though finite, supply of seconds I have left to live.
Mortality still hasn’t hit me. But the fear of getting old, that hit me really good four yeas ago, at 32, when I realized I was then older then any model I see in ads. Vain and superficial? Yes. But still true. :o
After I spent a summer in Germany, I kept thinking about all the tombs I’d seen in cathedrals, with dead guys in them that no one remembered or cared about. Then one evening I was stepping into the shower, thinking about that, and it suddenly hit me that * I will die too*, and I won’t know what happens after I die and there’ll be no more of me or my thoughts and memories, and I had a panic attack right there in my shower. I just sat down and hugged my knees to my chest and sobbed. I was 19 years old.
Most of the time I don’t think about it, but every once in a while the realization will hit me, and I’ll be depressed for hours. The worst part about it is the sheer terror of it - any other fear I have can be overcome just by facing it and getting over it, but I won’t be able to face my fear of death until the moment that I die.
When I was around 8. My third grade year, saw my only grandparent pass away and my father sent to Vietnam. That year, I realized that one day my parents would pass away leaving me all alone. I became very independant after that, knowing that I could not rely on anyone to take care of me. Pretty weird being that young and having those thoughts.
My parents are still living, although my father, who is 86, has Alzheimers.
My fear isn’t of death or dying. My greatest fear is having Alzheimers and wasting away to nothing and being totally unaware anything is happening. It’s so unfair.
I understood that people die early on… probably around four or five when my grandfather died.
I knew I when I was 18, driving home from college for the weekend and my best friend called to tell me that someone we had known in HS had died in a jet ski accident.
He was a senior, I was a freshman when we met. I didn’t know the guy very well, but he had taught me how to replace a halogen light bulb (never touch the glass!) and I always remembered his kindness, and his treating me like a human being.
Last year when I was diagnosed with cancer, I got hit with the realization of a lot of things, so mortality may have been in their somewhere and gotten lost in the shuffle. I’m doing fine now, but I remember one of the things that stuck with me was that there had earlier been a thread about “would you be alive today without modern medical science?” When I posted to it, I said sure. I’d had some minor issues, but nothing that would have done me in. For season I remembered that thread and actually felt a bit disappointed that I now had to thank medical science for keeping me here.
I’d say it was 'round about the time DeathAlpaca handed me his scythe and hooded garment and then shuffled off in the direction of some South Sea island.
it might have been when I was maybe 6 or 7 and “helping” my dad fix the car. I just looked up at him and thought about all the stuff my private Christian school had been telling us about eternal life and such, realizing that a person would have to die first before any eternal stuff started. I then realized that my dad, naturally being a bit older than I, would likely go long before I did. I was overcome with sadness at the thought of losing him. So I told him. Must have been weird from his point of view:
“Son, hand me that wrench by your foot.”
“Dad, I’m going to be really sad when you die.”
I remember him saying something to the effect of, “Yeah, me too.”
Wonder what he was thinking about that little exchange.
I wasn’t in it. Two guys I knew. They were rippin’ up and down the back roads, middle of the night, and head-on’d into another car doing at least fifty.
The two guys in question were brothers. Older brother was driving, and died instantly, as did the other driver. The younger brother died while being airlifted to a hospital.
Over the course of that week, it sank in that I was never going to see either of these guys again. Older Brother’s girlfriend was my lab partner, and she was utterly beside herself at the funeral. The boys had been very popular, lots of friends, and their sudden closed-casket funeral cast a LOT of ripples around the community. They left a big hole that was a long time in closing.
I decided that maybe driving around with a beer in my hand was a bad idea, after that.
In a movie theater in 1983, watching the Emilio Estevez classic “Nightmares.”
Specifically the segment called “The Benediction,” in which a priest who is having doubts about his faith is being chased in the desert by The Devil–in the form of a black four-wheel drive truck!
For some reason–and I have no idea why–that’s when it really hit me foursquare. And then I thought, “Well, heck, that’s not much fun.”
But then I got older and realized that ultimately, the planet itself will die, taking ever trace of humanity with it (except for the remaining scraps of interstellar probes)–and that even later the universe itself will probably just go cold and dark.
Interesting. When our children were little my wife bought a couple of candles that were marked off in years. You lighted them on their birthday and left them on until they burned down to the next mark.
I never liked them because they seemed representative of their lives slipping away.
But, I don’t believe in death. I fully intend to be the last surviving WWII vet, worldwide. And I’m gaining on that goal at a rapid pace every day. After that I’ll take on Korean vets.
Am very sorry for your loss, Maendosa.
My realization has been growing over stages.
The little kid time, in 1960-something when I was talking to my dad about the Millennium and he said “oh I’ll be gone by then” (he was.)
Then when I was 20-something and a friend died in a horrible car wreck.
Then when, over time and rather young, both my parents died.
And now I am looking at 50 and the ol’ body ain’t what it used to be.
My dad died at 50.
Three weeks ago, our next door neighbor died in his sleep. Very sad and shocking. A good way to go, but not for those left behind.
When you see the coroner’s car parked next to yours, death is not so abstract anymore.
I realized I was going to die when I was about 7, and it caused me quite a bit of panic. Sometimes, when I’m lying in bed at night, I get worked up into an utter and sudden panic over the thought that someday I will simply cease to exist.
Of course, not having died yet, I actually can’t be entirely sure that I will…
When it first hit me was sometime in my childhood. I can’t remember the specific moment, but I sure remember staying up late at night worrying and weirding out about death.
When it hit me the hardest was when my grandfather died four years ago. He was the first person close to me that died, and it was two weeks before DeathLlama and I were flying out to see him. I started crying, and then kept crying on and off for days. The visit so soon after his death was so painful–the raw grief in my grandmother, and the creepy emptiness of his home and office. :shudder: Nothing had been touched.
When I visited his grave, I wasn’t prepared for the dirt to still be fresh from his burial. I just broke down, completely.
I’m still haunted at the thought that he’s gone, that this wonderful man is just GONE and soon no one will even know he existed. I’m struggling in my faith, not sure what to believe in, and the thought of a vast nothingness shakes my soul. This struggle has become a regular part of my life.